Navy has big plans for the little UAV

Friday - 4/16/2010, 10:31am EDT

Rear Admiral Terry Kraft, Director, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Capabilities, Navy

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Call them Unmanned Arial Systems (UAS), or Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs), Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs), Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or just call them drones.

Just don't call them late to the technology party.

Each branch of the military has different uses for the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Director of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Capabilities, Rear Admiral Terry Kraft, told Federal News Radio the Navy knows what it likes about them.

"We were impressed with the persistence and the covertness of these vehicles when you get them out there."

The next logical question for Kraft has been how to "adapt these things for our own use."

Kraft said there are unmanned systems in the FY 2011 budget "and beyond" including the Small Tactical UAS (STUAS) and the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS).

The BAMS, said Kraft, will be the only ground based UAV. "All of our other unmanned systems, up to and including flying off of aircraft carriers, are going to be marinized, and really, when we look at building and designing these systems, that's the toughest challenge," said Kraft, "getting things on and off a ship."

Well, they are, after all, the Navy.

Looking at the future of the futuristic fliers, Kraft said he thinks "in the next 20 years for naval aviation, we're going to be in this transition period where unmanned aircraft are going to be working in concert with manned aircraft."

Other challenges over the next few decades, said Kraft, will include ethics, tactics, and how to handle "all this data that are coming off these aircraft" including ground control stations.

"Where do we put these people," asked Kraft, "and how do we minimize our manning so we're not just taking a whole lot of people out of the cockpit and putting a whole lot of people in a sweaty room somewhere."